Jindabyne
Rated M

Released on July 20, 2006 (Australia) April 27, 2007 (US)

Running Time – 123 Minutes

 

 

 

Key Cast

Laura Linney as Claire

Gabriel Byrne as Stewart

Deborra-Lee Furness as Jude

John Howard as Carl

Chris Haywood as Gregory

Leah Purcell as Carmel

Eva Lazzaro as Caylin-Calandria

Sean Rees-Wemyss as Tom

Alice Garner as Elissa

Stelios Yiakmis as Rocco

Simon Stone as Billy

Betty Lucas as Vanessa

 

Key Crew

Director – Ray Lawrence

Produced by - Philippa Bateman, Garry Charny, Catherine Jarman

Written by - Raymond Carver, Beatrix Christian

Music by - Paul Kelly, Dan Luscombe

Cinematography - David Williamson

Editor - Karl Sodersten

Distributor - Roadshow Films

 

 

Budget

Jindabyne was shot on a budget of $14 million over seven weeks in the New South Wales Snowy Mountains and was completed ahead of schedule in less than 9 months.

 

Box Office Figures

Jindabyne pulled in $5.3 million at the Australian box office making it the third most profitable Australian film for 2006 after the low budget “Kenny” ($7.6 million) and Happy Feet ($11.1 million).

 

Interviews with cast and film makers

Below are the best 6 interviews I found on the web. However, a simple google search will reveal a very strong internet presence of interviews. There are now several new interviews following the US release of Jindabyne.

 

1. Jindabyne’s Jewish Producer
http://www.ajn.com.au/news/news.asp?pgID=1000

July 6, 2006
by Nicole Breskin

An article with some quotes from producer Garry Charny. This provides a very brief background on the months leading up to the film with meetings between director Ray Lawrence, producer Garry Charny and musician Paul Kelly. It provides some insight into the relationship between the artistic integrity of a film and its colder business side. This article was posted 2 weeks before the release of the film.

2. Interview: Laura Linney talks about Jindabyne
http://www.cinematical.com/2006/09/23/tiff-interview-laura-linney-talks-about-jindabyne/

posted on September 23 2006
by Kim Voynar

You can download this interview or watch it over Netscape. (31.1MB, five minutes)

 

3. Interviews with the cast and director with David Stratton
http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1675424.htm

posted 12 July 2006

David Stratton talks to Gabriel Byrne, Deborra-Lee Furness and director of Jindabyne about one week before its release. Gabriel Byrne talks a little about his view of Australian Cinema and working with Ray Lawrence. Deborra-Lee Furness tells what it’s like to work with Ray Lawrence.

4. Dark Horizons – Interview with Ray Lawrence
http://www.darkhorizons.com/news07/lawrence.php

posted on April 19 2007
by Paul Fischer

This interview was posted one week prior to the film’s US release. This is quite a general interview about the entire career so far of Ray Lawrence. I found it interesting as it puts Jindabyne in context with Lawrence’s other works.

5. Interview – Ray Lawrence
http://www.emanuellevy.com/article.php?articleID=5125

I was unable to find out exactly when this interview with Emanuel Levy took place

This interview covers

 

6. Interview – Beatrix Christian (scriptwriter)
http://www.emanuellevy.com/article.php?articleID=5126

I was unable to find out exactly when this interview with Emanuel Levy took place

This interview covers

Film Reviews

Listed here are the 6 best reviews I located. The 6th review is the most recent review from the American release, the others are Australian publications.

 

1. http://www.infilm.com.au/reviews/jindabyne.htm
by Avril Carruthers (no date provided)

2. http://www.abc.net.au/adelaide/stories/s1692543.htm
by Nick Prescott for 891 ABC Adelaide, July 20 2006

3. http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/review/film/s1690911.htm
by Megan Spencer for Triple J Radio, July 18 2006

4. http://www.smh.com.au/news/film-reviews/jindabyne/2006/07/14/1152637853840.html
by Sandra Hall for Sydney Morning Herald, published July 15 2006

5. http://www.theage.com.au/news/film-reviews/jindabyne/2006/07/19/1153166448846.html
by Jim Schembri for The Age, published July 21 2006

6. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20035190,00.html
by Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly, April 24 2007

 

Online Presence

Jindabyne has quite a strong online presence with many reviews, interviews and advertisements. I came across many interviews with the cast and crew that were published or posted before the release of the film. I assume this was done for publicity to generate some interest in the film and there seems to be a strong audience who follow the work of Ray Lawrence following the international success of Lantana.

Apart from the advertisements and interviews, many websites that reviewed the film have room for individual comments or discussions in the form of discussion boards about Jindabyne which gives the audience the opportunity to critique and share their opinions about the film with each other and the readers. 

 

 

Critical Uptake

Many of the online reviews seem to follow a similar format and in many cases read like promotional material or description of Jindabyne rather than an honest critique. Many of the Australian reviews in particular spend a lot of time establishing Jindabyne in its context by establishing its place it Australian Cinema. They do this by providing a lot of background on director Ray Lawrence and his previous films (especially Lantana) and comparing it to other Australian film releases around the same time. These reviews encourage the reader to think about their reaction to Lantana and to watch Jindabyne based simply on the merits of Lawrence’s previous films.

Australian film reviewers Margaret and David from the ABC program “At the Movies” approached their reviews refreshingly different. I have considered one of the reasons for this may be that they are engaged in a discussion with each other rather than producing stagnant written work for print or web publication. Although Margaret seemed to enjoy the film as much as other reviewers she is not afraid to point out its minor faults.  For example she states regarding some of the actors performances

“I have qualms about some elements of the story and funnily enough some of the performances from the supporting characters. But generally the performances of all the leads are just so fine. (Pomeranz, M 2006)”

and in relation to the story

“But I feel that there is just some glue in this story that isn't quite there to bring everything together (Pomeranz, M 2006)”   

These opinions of Margaret’s differ significantly to other Australian and American reviewers who praise every element of the film without question or exception. I was unable to locate any other reviews that were so bold as to comment on the same lines as Margaret.

Some reviews contained quotes or short interviews from the cast and crew.

 

Critical Review

From the director of “Bliss” and “Lantana”, Ray Lawrence’s third feature is a somewhat eerie and provocative drama that shares its title with the small town in New South Wales Australia in which it is set, “Jindabyne”. The story evolves from a serial killer taking the life of a local woman and dumping her body in a river. This event could have been the basis for a murder mystery or thriller, however, the murder is merely the beginning of how many complex characters react and interact when they are faced with the many moral dilemmas associated with the discovery of the murdered body and the events that follow.

This story adapted for the screen by Beatrix Christian, has been filmed before. It was originally written by Raymond Carver as a short story (So Much Water so Close to Home), and was filmed in 1993 by Robert Altman in “Short Cuts”. Jindabyne tells the story of four men who travel just out of Jindabyne to a remote river to go trout fishing. At the beginning of their trip one of the men discovers the body of a young Indigenous woman. He shares his findings with his friends and as a group they decide, rather than cutting their much anticipated trip short to report it to police, they tie the body down in the river and continue their fishing trip and report it on the way home two days later.

The fact that the men left the woman’s body in the river for days and continued to fish over her sparked horrified reactions of the wives, the community and in particular the aboriginal family and wider aboriginal community. The binary values and opinions regarding what the fishermen did with the girl’s body between men and women, and indigenous and non-indigenous people form much of this story. It uses this formation to touch on the subjects of life, relationships, religion, differing cultural values and parenthood responsibilities, guilt and credibility. These issues are beautifully represented explicitly through action and dialogue and symbolically.

The slow pace of this film gives the audience time appreciate each of the characters on a deeper level and to relate their situations and characteristics to the men’s discovery and treatment of the body. This was made believable for the audience as the standard of acting was superb throughout, particularly the work of Laura Linney. Some of the most powerful, revealing and connecting moments in the film were carried by the quality of the acting as they were not necessarily dramatic but were intense and believable. Although we know Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne as Hollywood actors their plain and realistic appearances contributed to the sense of realism leaving room to consider the deeper issues being explored.   

Jindabyne appears to handle its Indigenous content with maturity and cultural sensitivity. It is able to remain unbiased on cultural issues and does not represent any entire culture, although culture and background form the actions of some individual characters as they are aboriginal or non-aboriginal, American or Irish.
The cinematography has the perfect blend of wide panoramic shots displaying the Australian town and close to medium shots to highlight expression. The wide landscape shots contribute to the dark mysteriousness and cultural connections between life and land. The colors although spectacular had a dark, cool eerie feel contributing to the mysterious coldness of the film.

In retrospect, it felt almost as if Ray Lawrence was preparing his audience for Jindabyne with Lantana’s exploration of the fragility of human relationships when put under pressure by previously unexplored moral issues. Jindabyne is a wonderful, provocative, visually stimulating and entertaining Australian Film.   

 

Production and Release

Release Date: 20 July 2006
Rating: M for mature audiences
Production Co: Films Finance Corporation Australia (FFC), Nomura Babcock & Brown Productions, Redchair Films, April Films
Financiers: Funding: Films Finance Corporation Australia (FFC)
Filming Locations: New South Wales, Australia
Produced in: Australia

American Release
As above except;

Theatrical Release : 27th April 2007
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Production Company: April Films
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing images, language and some nudity.

Besides the above the only information available regarding the circumstances of the production of this film was from interviews from the cast and crew. Ray Lawrence explains that it took him 5 years to gain funding for the production of the film. Gabriel Byrne describes his initial involvement in the film began when “he (Ray Lawrence) showed up in New York and he said, "I have a script that I really would like you to do. And the reason I'd like you to do it is because I think this would be a spiritual journey that you will find will affect your life in a profound way. (Byrne, G 2006)"

 

The prior work of director Ray Lawrence

Ray Lawrence has directed three films in the space of 20 years. These are; Bliss (1985), based on the Peter Carey novel of the same name, Lantana (2001), Andrew Bovell's adaptation of his play, Speaking In Tongues, which won seven AFI Awards and Jindabyne.
Although Ray Lawrence has only made three feature films in his career, he is regarded as critically acclaimed and well respected within the film industry and particularly the Australian film industry. This may be due to his unusual directing style as he usually insists on only shooting one take of each scene (Wikipedia, 2007) However he does demonstrate some flexibility with this according to the interviews with the cast. He is well known for his desire for complete creative control and is known for his use of natural light when filming.

Jindabyne’s current place on contemporary critical and market horizons and value within Australian Cinema
The release of Lantana in 2001 made a significant impression on Australian and international cinema with its amazing cast and refreshing honest look at raw human emotion. Lawrence’s follow-up Jindabyne shows a lot of Lawrence’s signature styles however this time he has chosen to use well established Hollywood actors as his lead actors. Film reviewer Megan Spencer states
“I did ask myself just why I was watching American Laura Linney in a role that clearly was written for - or more suited to and believable with - an Australian character. (Linney was measured as always, and very solid in the role. You can't fault her acting. She just didn’t seem to belong in Jindabyne and it was at times a stretch to justify her presence. A result of the vagaries of film financing perhaps? The same could also be said of Byrne.) (Spencer, 2006)”
Perhaps a combination of Hollywood and Australian actors was a requirement for the funding of Jindabyne. I would argue that it has also made this Australian film more widely available in the American film community as it contains well established, recognisable and respected American actors. This may have even made the film more desirable to Australian audiences.  
In my opinion Jindabyne holds strong value within Australian cinema as it demonstrates that Australia is capable of producing mature yet entertaining dramatic cinema which is not afraid to tackle sensitive social issues. The fact that it was the third highest grossing Australian film in 2006, shows that there is a strong desire for such films in the Australian public.

Genre and Australianess
Jindabyne borrows from many different genres, but one thing is for sure, it’s Australianess. The cinematography demonstrates a strong significance to the Australian land within the story. The majority of the actors and characters are Australian with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. In my opinion, some of the characters are a little stereotypically Australian, but they do not fall into the usual over the top white middleclass, lovable, hardworking, larrikin, aussie battler which is usually represented in Australian films.
I would suggest that Jindabyne could fall into the category or sub-genre of Aboriginal Australian cinema. I suggest that this genre could be defined with the help of Basinger’s definition of the woman’s movie
“A woman’s film is a movie that places at the centre of it’s universe a female who is trying to deal with emotional, social, and psychological problems that are specifically connected to the fact that she is a woman” (Gillard, 2004, pg61).

I have used Basinger’s definition specifically to develop what I consider to be an Aboriginal Australian film by replacing “woman” with “Aboriginal Australian”. Therefore the definition of the sub-genre within Australian cinema of Aboriginal Australian cinema would read

An Aboriginal Australian’s film is a movie that places at the centre of its universe an Aboriginal Australian who is trying to deal with emotional, social and psychological problems that are specifically connected to the fact that he/she is an Aboriginal Australian. (Gillard, 2004 pg61).

I would also suggest that even when the central characters in a film are non-aboriginal, you could consider it an Aboriginal Australian film if the motivation of the actions and representation of the characters are driven by another characters Aboriginality.

This leaves room for the Aboriginal Australian movie to borrow generic signifiers and codes from other genres. In the case of Jindabyne I would call it an Aboriginal Australian film that follows the generic codes of a Hollywood drama, social problem film and at times the thriller.

 

 

 

 

References not included in the body of text
Byrne, G 2006
http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1675424.htm

Gillard, G 2007. Ten Types of Australian Film. Murdoch University, Western Australia.

Lawrence, R 2006.

http://www.emanuellevy.com/article.php?articleID=5125

Pomeranz, M 2006.
http://au.movies.yahoo.com/Jindabyne/movie/15491/featured-review/

Spencer, M 2006.

http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/review/film/s1690911.htm
Wikipedia 2007.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Lawrence